Australian Government guidance on the Optus data breach and the Medibank Private Limited and AHM cyber incident.

Exposure limits for electromagnetic energy (EME) from telecommunications in Australia

Did you know that exposure limits and safety regulations for EME from telecommunications vary from country to country and are subject to the operation of local laws?

In Australia, the Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency (ARPANSA) provides advice to the Australian Government on what those exposure limits should be, to keep everyone safe. To do this, ARPANSA developed a Standard for Limiting Exposure to Radiofrequency Fields – 100 kHz to 300 GHz (RPS S-1) that is based on international guidelines established by the International Commission for Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection (ICNIRP) and endorsed by the World Health Organization (WHO).

But how does the Standard protect us from any potential harmful effects of EME from telecommunication?

The Standard is based on current scientific research and international guidelines that show the levels at which harmful effects may occur and it sets limits for telecommunications services and equipment well below these levels.

There are different exposure limits in the Standard that apply to a variety of settings, depending on what frequency a particular source uses as well as different impacts of EME on the human body.

For telecommunications infrastructure, like towers and small cells, the limit for the general public is measured in a quantity called ‘power density’ and it ranges from 2 to 10 watts per square meter (W/m2) depending on the operating frequency.

For 5G infrastructure, the public exposure limit is 10 W/m2.

For devices such as mobile phones, tablets and laptops used in closer proximity to the body, another measure called ‘specific absorption rate’ (measured in watts per kilogram, W/kg) is used to evaluate the exposure.

When using a mobile phone against the head the exposure limit is 2 W/kg.  

The exposure limits in the Standard are designed to protect people of all ages and health status against any known adverse health effects from exposure to EME.

And the good news is, there are no known adverse health effects from exposure to EME from telecommunications, when operating below the exposure limits set out in the Standard. 

Further Reading:

ARPANSA